Picture an iconic location within our iconic location. Forster Main Beach would be in your Top Five, right? And an iconic location at Forster Main Beach must be Beach Bums. This café is in arguably the most prime piece of real estate and takes advantage of year-long sun, easy parking and access for walkers.
If you are a parent sitting at Beach Bums having a coffee, watching the kids doing Sand Angels is the perfect half hour of peace and quiet, no matter the time of year.
Darrin Cornall is the man driving Beach Bums, a local business that has had a busy couple of months with renovations and is now looking a treat. I sat down with Darrin overlooking paradise, sipping a coffee.
Darrin, tell us about your upbringing … You’re a Gloucester boy, I believe?
Yes, I was raised on a dairy/beef property about 35 minutes west of Forster. My primary school education was a little unique, as my school only had 10 children in total. When it came time to go to high school, the only bus went to Gloucester, which meant an hour and 40 minutes travel each way, five days a week. I started my apprenticeship as a pastry chef at Forster the day I finished school and transferred to Gloucester to complete the final two years of my trade.
So, after finishing the trade in Gloucester, what did you do? Was it time to move away for experience? If so, what did you learn from this?
No, not straight away. In my early twenties I actually moved to the Gold Coast, where I ran a business for about four years. I then moved to Sydney, where I met my wife, Kate, who had just arrived on a backpacking holiday from the UK. After two years working our way around Australia, it was time for Kate to return home, so I packed my bags and headed to the UK for six years, while Kate finished her studies.
While I was in the UK, I started working as a chef for a hotel company, before being identified as management material and undertaking their management program.
I found this training invaluable, and it was great to work in many different locations – including the last three years in London. It also gave me a greater appreciation of the Great Lakes and its natural beauty, which I had taken for granted. It was always our intention to return here – and that we did, to get married in January 2006.
Ten years later, and Beach Bums has become an institution in our area. What is it that makes the café so special?
In the first few years we decided to support sporting groups and community organisations, as much as we could afford to. This was great for goodwill and over the years, they have made it their home; I guess it’s a bit like one big happy family.
You’ve just finished a big week supporting the Mark Hughes Foundation; Beanie Week was a success. Why is this such an important charity to you?
We were blown away by the support for the “Beanies for Brain Cancer Week”. We raised over $2,300 and sold out in just two days! Cancer is something that has affected everyone in some way. The sooner we find a cure, the better. I always try to support charity wherever possible; I may need it myself one day. I will be climbing the 1,504 steps of Sydney Tower in October, with some mates to raise money for Motor Neuron Disease.
Great initiative, Darrin. Now, War on Waste has been in spotlight lately. As a very community minded local, what does Beach Bums do to reduce the impact on our environment?
We have been actively reducing our waste for many years, including energy and water.
Our takeaway coffee cups and containers are Biopak, which is both compostable and recyclable. We recently registered with the Responsible Cafés website https://www.responsiblecafes.org so we encourage customers to bring their own reusable coffee cup (12 oz max) and offer a 40c discount incentive. Our biggest waste saver was installing an I-Milk system, two years ago. This milk tap system uses 10 litre bladders instead of bottles, reducing our waste by around 35%.
As a lifelong local, you would understand the value of locals supporting locals. How do you collaborate with other tourism operators to support Great Lakes tourism?
We are working together with some of the accommodation operators to not only promote activities and attractions in the area, but enhance their stay by offering room chargebacks and breakfast packages. Operators of events often approach us to help enhance the experience of participants and volunteers with incentives. I am only too happy to offer suggestions to visitors stuck for something to do while visiting.
You’ve got some exciting changes happening at the café. Can you give us an insight into what is going on?
We are celebrating 10 years in August and are currently undertaking the biggest renovation we have ever done. We are having a permanent awning erected, with weather curtains and a new internal fit-out. Over the next few months we will shift to using some home grown produce from our family property, so you won’t only be seeing the changes, but tasting them as well.
For you, what is the best part about being in business in the Great Lakes?
I’m just proud of this area. I love having visitors to the region and seeing them amazed at the dolphins and whales playing out the front, or the amazing crystal-clear water – things that we just take for granted. It’s also a great place to raise children. What’s not to like!
Couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Darrin, and congratulations on 10 years and the renovations.